In 2018 the National College of Nuclear North Hub (Based at Lakes College West Cumbria) was opened to address the aging workforce of the UK nuclear industry, where the average age for a technical role in the UK nuclear industry was 55.
Specifically the focus was on building technical skills, with courses that would take students straight into work within the nuclear industry. Developing students with these capabilities requires teaching equipment that balances the need for students to find experiments easy to use, while replicating applications in industry, making students work sufficiently to achieve the learning outcomes of a course.
The National College of Nuclear North Hub (Lakes College West Cumbria) teaches a range of practical foundation and honours degrees. These courses include Decommissioning & Waste Management, Civil Engineering & Asset Management, Electrical Power Systems & Infrastructure, Applied Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering.
Matching Teaching Requirements
Paul Fairclough, Director of Higher Engineering, Science and Nuclear explained that they have developed a teaching model called the Experiential Learning Model. This is designed to support people getting into industry, specifically for work readiness. Practical teaching in all of their degrees is an important element giving the students the skill sets they need for employability. This was a big reason why they selected TecQuipment, over others in the engineering education equipment marketplace.
“The nature of the nuclear industry makes replicating the real world really important. That’s one of the reasons why we teach using TecQuipment’s products, because they match our teaching requirements,” explained Fairclough.
The following products were selected to form an important part of the practical teaching at the Nuclear North Hub’s laboratory facility. Many of these are used across courses.
- Bench-Top heat Exchanger Service Module (TD360) and Heat Exchangers for understanding how various heat exchangers work.
- Digital Hydraulic Bench (H1F) to provide a controlled recirculating water supply and drain with digital flow meter for us with experiments:
- Friction Loss in a Pipe (H7) for understanding the change in laws of resistance for laminar and turbulent flow, finding the Reynolds number and demonstrating the flow transition point.
- Centrifugal Pump Module (MFP101) and Pelton Wheel Turbine, Propeller Turbine and Francis Turbine to study and compare the different turbines on a centrifugal pump.
- Engineering Science Kit (ESF) which consists of all eighteen experiment kits within the Engineering Science range from TecQuipment for understanding basic mechanical principles.
- A Free Vibrations Test Frame (TM160) and both the Simple and Compound Pendulums (TM161) and Filar Pendulums (TM162); for learning about harmonic motion and factors that affect the period of oscillation of these different types of pendulums.
- Thin Cylinder (SM1007) apparatus for learning about the stresses and strains of a pressurised thin walled cylinder.
- Pipework Energy Loss (H34) to demonstrate energy losses around typical bends and fittings.
- Friction Loss in a Pipe Experiment (H7) that allows students to investigate losses in a small-bore horizontal pipe under laminar and turbulent flow conditions.
- Bernoulli’s Theorem (H5) experiment, which is an educational venture for studying venture meters and Bernoulli’s Theorem.
- Digital Hydraulic Bench (H1F) for use with the above two fluid experiments to supply water with an accurate flowmeter.
- Multivariable Coupled Tanks (CE105MV) experiment and Controller (CE120) for learning about the principles of open and closed-loop control of flowrate and liquid level in a single and dual tank systems.
- For comprehensive teaching of structures they use the Archest, Bridges and Trusses Package (STRA) Deflection and Stresses Package (STRB) + Failure Package (STRC), plus individual experiments:
- Bending Moments in a Beam (STR2)
- Shear Force in a Beam (STR3)
- Torsion of Circular Sections (STR6)
- Unsymmetrical Bending and Shear Centre (STR7)
As well as TecQuipment’s teaching products, the purpose built facility also features simulated radioactive fields and virtual reality systems that means they can simulate the internal elements of a nuclear facility.
Paul Fairclough has used TecQuipment teaching equipment since 1989, in this period he has worked for a range of universities and colleges choosing TecQuipment repeatedly. The number one reason for this is quality.
TecQuipment designs and manufactures products in the company’s headquarters based in the Midlands region of the UK. The ability to control the whole process means that high quality standards can be maintained.
“TecQuipment delivers consistently good quality. That’s a good manufacturing build and reliability, plus the equipment looks good and is easy for students to use,” explained Fairclough.
More than Just the Product
The benefit of using TecQuipment teaching products goes far beyond the apparatus itself. The lifelong customer care and supporting documentation makes a big difference.
Fairclough added: “The key thing is the learning materials that come with the products, including the exercises.”
Each product comes with a manual, that includes set-up instructions, maintenance guidelines, step-by-step guides on how to carry out experiments, and in many cases supporting theory. The purpose is to make practical teaching as straightforward as possible.
Results Speak Louder than Words
Reporting in October 2019, Paul Fairclough talks about their results “We’re coming towards the end of our first round of degrees, which have resulted in high pass rates and good retention. In January 2020 we are due to have 430 students on the various courses.”
Aside from the statistics, their model of practical teaching has been recognised by other national colleges as good practice and is being used as an example of excellence to replicate.